The owners of a miniature horse farm in Sonoma County got the bad news of their pending eviction Tuesday, putting the future of their 40 prize animals and their home for the past three decades in doubt.
KTVU first reported on the eviction proceedings at Love Patch Farms in Penngrove back in February. The flag above the farm was lowered to half-staff on Tuesday as a sign of mourning.
Now that owners Lee Romero and her partner Cory Vandergeld have received with eviction papers, the couple must find a new home for themselves and their unusual herd to live.
Earlier Tuesday, Romero was cooling down one of her 40 miniature horses before she had to lock the gates and leave the home she's had for the last 30 years.
A sheriff's deputy served the eviction notice.
"What she said was we have 15 days from today to remove all personal belongings," explained Romero.
After that, any property left behind will belong to the land owner. Romero and Vandergeld fell behind on their rent payments and are being forced out.
Their biggest concern has been what will happen to their prize miniature show horses.
"We have people who want to put them in pony rides or birthday parties or things like that," said Romero
Some people have offered to take the ponies for free. A few have offered to buy the animals, but Romero and Vandergeld were suspicious of the motives of some.
"A lot of times, they will just take them to auctions," said Romero. "Someone joked about it. I didn't think it was very funny. They called it 'standing meat.'"
KTVU emailed the property owner, Ray Kaliski of Tiburon, but didn't receive a response.
Vandergeld said tuesday's eviction has taken a toll on his health.
"They called the paramedics … because my blood pressure was like, sky high," said Vandergeld.
In addition to their concerns for their animals, the couple still doesn't even know where they're going to live.
"We haven't decided," said Romero.
20 of the horses were moved over the weekend to a ranch in Bodega where the owner agreed to watch them temporarily.
The Sonoma County Humane Society has agreed to take the rest, but that would mean surrendering the horses for good. Lee and Cory told KTVU they're not yet ready to do that, even though time has just about run out.
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